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A rapturous reception of a forgotten heritage of South Sudan.

By James Gatdet Dak May 17, 2009 (JUBA Juba, city, Sudan
Juba (j`bə), city (1993 pop. 114,980), S Sudan, a port on the White Nile.
) -- "I have been telling people for several years that if the words of Ngundeng were true, the dang would be found and returned to our land,"said elder Gatkuoth Deng. "hen I heard this news about dang last month that it was found and be brought home, I could recall my arguments about it,"he continued.

A rapturous rap·tur·ous  
Filled with great joy or rapture; ecstatic.

raptur·ous·ly adv.
 reception of Ngundeng's dang as the plane carrying it got engulfed in the middle of the runway by a crowd of thousands of people wanting to touch or see it, Juba, May 16, 2009 (photo ST - J.G.Dak)

It was in April this year that news began to spread about the coming back of a historical artifact A distortion in an image or sound caused by a limitation or malfunction in the hardware or software. Artifacts may or may not be easily detectable. Under intense inspection, one might find artifacts all the time, but a few pixels out of balance or a few milliseconds of abnormal sound  which many people forgot about, but some believed it would return to South Sudan someday. This is an artifact called 'dang' or rod which was divine to Ngundeng Bong. He was believed to be a prophet in some parts of Upper Nile Coordinates:

Upper Nile (Arabic: أعالي النيل; transliterated: (A'aly an-Nyl) or (Aâlâ En Nîl) is one of the 26
 region from around 1840's until his peaceful death in 1906. The dang arrived Juba on Saturday, 16th May 2009. Anticipating its arrival time, thousands of people began to gather at Juba airport Juba Airport is an airport in Juba, Sudan (IATA: JUB, ICAO: HSSJ). It is the operational base for Feeder Airlines Company. Scheduled services
  • Eagle Air (Kampala)
  • East African Safari Air (Nairobi)
  • Ethiopian Airlines (Addis Ababa)
 looking up at each plane that was landing from eastern side of the airport. They were told the plane would come from Nairobi at around 11:30AM. That did not stop them from starting to stare up in the skies from around 9:00AM looking for Looking for

In the context of general equities, this describing a buy interest in which a dealer is asked to offer stock, often involving a capital commitment. Antithesis of in touch with.
 the unidentified plane. Police and airport security personnel were deployed ready to maintain calm and order if the normal protocol personnel were to be overwhelmed by the huge crowd. That did not help either. The plane arrived at around 11:30AM. "That is the plane," said one informer Informer

revealed theft by Mercury; turned to touchstone. [Gk. and Rom. Myth.: Walsh Classical, 47]

Cenci, Count Francesco

old libertine ravishes his daughter Beatrice. [Br. Lit.
. In a matter of few minutes the plane found itself engulfed by thousands of people in the middle of the runway as police and security personnel were overwhelmed and could not stop the roaring and fast moving crowd. Douglas Johnson Douglas Johnson (1925-2005), a British historian, was born in Edinburgh in 1925. He attended the Royal Grammar School, Lancaster, and then Worcester College, Oxford, on a history scholarship.  stepped down from the plane. "That is probably the white man bringing the dang," murmured some. I approached Biel Kong, a man among the crowd and standing near me. "How would you know it is the original dang when you have never seen it or known how its looks like?" I asked him. "Ngundeng talked of 'dang mi yiel juoc," he replied. His answer in Nuer was referring to a foretold fore·told  
Past tense and past participle of foretell.
 Ngundeng's description of his dang with a 'broken tip from one end.' I decided to ask another person a similar question to see if the answer would be the same or not. The other fellow I asked, and who happened to be a university student in Juba, gave me a different version of proving that the dang was the original one. "You know, those Europeans are not like us. They understand the importance of history and so they preserve it for centuries," he confidently assured me. The crowd continued scanning every single luggage that the airport personnel were unloading from the plane hoping to detect the bag carrying the dang. Little did they know that the dang was already among the bags they were looking at in front of them. Organizers were waiting for the region's VP Dr. Riek Machar Riek Machar Teny Dhurgon (b. 1952), a Dok Nuer, is the current vice-president of the autonomous Government of Southern Sudan.[1] Biography
He was one of the earliest members of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLM) under John Garang (1984).
 to receive it. He was still in the VIP's lounge with AU delegation, led by former South African President, Thabo Mbeki Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki (born June 18 1942) is the current President of the Republic of South Africa.<ref name="gcis-profile2004" /> Early years
Born and raised in what is now the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, Mbeki is the son of Govan Mbeki (1910
, who had paid a one-day visit to Juba for talks on peace efforts with the semi-autonomous government. Suddenly pushing began as bodyguards tried to open a narrow space through which Dr. Machar could get to where the bag was. He got hold of the bag and began to struggle through his way back. A peaceful chaos ensued. The crowd encircled en·cir·cle  
tr.v. en·cir·cled, en·cir·cling, en·cir·cles
1. To form a circle around; surround. See Synonyms at surround.

2. To move or go around completely; make a circuit of.
 him, grabbing his shoulders trying to stop him as every body wanted to touch the bag or see it at a close range. "If I can get a chance to touch it I would be very happy indeed," shouted one struggler. A bull got slaughtered beside the plane for 'kier' or sacrifice to welcome home the dang. At Machar's residence thousands of people began to gather in anticipation of a celebration where he and Douglas would open the bag and display the dang for people to see. More government ministers, MPs and elders began to arrive. By about 1:00PM the celebrations began. Musicians and traditional dancers took to the stage to entertain the already exciting crowd. Traditional songs by group dancers from different tribes could be heard from all corners. Others were chanting the songs of Ngundeng amid ululations and blowing of trumpets. Understandably, Dinka and Nuer group dancers and traditional singers dominated the scene, probably because of their long time knowledge about Ngundeng. After several speeches by dignitaries, it was time for Machar and Douglas to open the bag in front of the people. Every one was eager to see it. The dang, black in colour and looking old but straight and strong, confirmed the expectation of Biel Kong. It is broken on the tip of one side, which earned its description by Ngundeng as 'dang in yiel juoc.' The broken piece (tip) was still held to the main body by strings which looked like they were made of steel. Another bull was slaughtered after it was taken out of a long bag. Nuer elders I spoke to could not tell exactly when the dang was made. Some say it could be around 1860s some years after Ngundeng assumed his role of prophet while others are not sure. If the estimation of 1860s is correct the dang would be about 150 years old. It was taken by the British colonial administration to England more than 80 years ago in 1927. Ngundeng, whose name means 'Gift of God' in Nuer language The Nuer language is a Nilo-Saharan language of the Western Nilotic group. It is spoken by the Nuer people of southern Sudan. Nuer is one of eastern and central Africa's most widely spoken languages. The Nuer tribe is one of the largest tribes in Southern Sudan. , was born around late 1830s. His father, Bong, originally came from Bul-Nuer in Western Nuer (present day Unity state), but moved to Jikany-Nuer in Eastern Nuer (present day Upper Nile state) where Ngundeng was born. Ngundeng was the only child of his mother, Nyayiel, who came from the Lou-Nuer in Central Nuer (present day Jonglei state) where he conducted most of his activities. According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 Ngundeng's book written by Professor Douglas Johnson, Ngundeng's mother gave birth to him after she was barren for dozens of years and her hair turned grey and reached menopause menopause (mĕn`əpôz) or climacteric (klīmăk`tərĭk, klī'măktĕr`ĭk)  as she was very old. Nyayiel then left her husband, Bong, in Jikany-Nuer and lived with her parents' relatives in Lou-Nuer until a dream came to her at night commanding her to go back to Bong so that she would give birth to a child whose name would be called 'Ngun-Deng.' Some elders recall that Ngundeng's prophecies during his lifetime generation were challenged. Whenever he prophesied about future, he would be ridiculed and called a liar. He would only defend his words by saying that it was God who gave him the messages and that God could not lie, but "his delays in fulfilling prophecies are his only lies." When asked whether this generation's elders believe his prophecies, elder Makuach could not mince his words. "Yes, we now believe them unlike his [Ngundeng's] generation because his prophecies are being fulfilled during this generation," he said. "When we compare what he said and what is happening now in Sudan, you can without any doubt see that he was very accurate," Makuach continued. Ngundeng also built about 60 to 70 feet high pyramid at Bieh around 1880s. It was bombed and demolished de·mol·ish  
tr.v. de·mol·ished, de·mol·ish·ing, de·mol·ish·es
1. To tear down completely; raze.

2. To do away with completely; put an end to.

 by warplanes of the British colonial administration during their 27-year on and off war with the Nuer, leaving a small part of it intact. Mary Boya, a musician from Murle community, told the crowd that she could hear about Ngundeng when she was still a very small child in her community. "I could hear about Ngundeng since I was small but couldn't understand what it was all about," she explained. "Ngundeng is a prophet of God, his words are true, but he is not God and cannot be worshipped like God," replied a young man from Nuer traditional dancers when I asked him why would some people call Ngundeng God and others call him Prophet. "People should understand the difference between a Prophet, God's son and God himself," he said. Deng, a Dinka youth member from Northern Bahr Ghazal Ghaz´al

n. 1. A kind of Oriental lyric, and usually erotic, poetry, written in recurring rhymes.
 who attended the occasion declared that Ngundeng was a prophet, not only for South Sudan, but for all the black people of Africa. "ogether, together, all of us together,"chanted the crowd as they referred to the unity of the people of South Sudan. Elders who volunteered to educate people about Ngundeng at the occasion explained that the prophet was a peace-maker among the black people of Sudan. According to them, Ngundeng's lifetime witnessed peace among the Nuer and with their neighbours. They said he stopped the Nuer from raiding their neighboring neigh·bor  
1. One who lives near or next to another.

2. A person, place, or thing adjacent to or located near another.

3. A fellow human.

4. Used as a form of familiar address.

 tribes and encouraged good neighborliness neigh·bor·ly  
Having or exhibiting the qualities of a friendly neighbor.

neighbor·li·ness n.

Noun 1.
. They explained that the dang was used for peace-making by Ngundeng and never used it to threaten others unless in self-defense (Law) in protection of self, - it being permitted in law to a party on whom a grave wrong is attempted to resist the wrong, even at the peril of the life of the assailiant.
- Wharton.

See also: Self-defense
. "This action of self-defense occurred once when he struck dead invading neighboring tribal warriors A Tribal Warrior is a warrior belonging to a tribe or a nation in which the Tribalist system of government exists. This is the system when the basic unit of government is the tribe, and the people exist solely to defend it and help it grow.  with it," the elders further explained. 16th May was declared during the event as a day on which the return of dang Ngundeng would be commemorated every year, probably at his religious headquarters, Bieh, in Wec Deang, Jonglei state. The day also coincided with the historic day on which the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) was founded in 1983. However, the major SPLM/A annual celebration in the capital, Juba, has been postponed to 26th May this year. (ST)

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Publication:Sudan Tribune (Sudan)
Date:May 18, 2009
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